Habitats A habitat is an environment with conditions which are suitable for a certain animal. You could think of it as an animal’s home. One habitat can be a home for lots of different animals. Photo credit Brian Lary Photo credit Timo Balk Photo credit Ariel da Silva Parreira
Habitats You might think that all underwater environments are the same but actually there are many different conditions and habitats! Photo credit Guillaume Riesen Photo credit Michiru Maeda Photo credit Fred Fokkelman
Habitats Different animals need different conditions to survive. These conditions determine what type of habitat they live in. Photo Credit El B Photo credit Brian Lary Ariel da Silva Parreira
Habitats For animals living underwater the most important factors are: Water temperature Hiding areas Breeding areas Level of salt Amount of oxygen Type and amount of food.
Amount of salt There are 3 types of underwater environment with different levels of salt: Freshwater: Water which contains very little salt. Most ponds, lakes and rivers are freshwater. Saltwater: All of the world’s oceans and seas have high levels of salt. Brackish water: Brackish water exists where freshwater rivers meet saltwater seas. The levels of salt change all the time. Some fish cannot live in water with lots of salt and some need salt to survive.
Oxygen Fish take all the oxygen they need from the water they live in. Different fish need different levels of oxygen to survive. Carp can survive in water with little oxygen, whilst trout live in water with a good oxygen supply.
Food Every animal has to eat, so their habitat must contain a supply of the food which they need. For example, starfish like to eat mussels so their habitat must contain plenty of mussels for them to eat. The amount of food available will be an important factor in how many animals can live in that habitat. Photo credit Michael Micheletti
Temperature Each animal can survive in a certain range of water temperature. For example, seals can survive in very cold waters around the Arctic circle because they have a thick layer of blubber (fat) under their skin, whereas the fish found close to the shore in tropical areas need much warmer water to survive.
Water quality Poor quality or polluted water will affect the amount of animals and plants that are able to live there. Water quality can affect fish differently. Fish like carp can live in relatively low quality water.
Cover Fish require cover for two reasons: 1.To protect them from predators that might want to eat them. 2.To help them catch unsuspecting prey. Different fish prefer different types of cover. It could be rocks, plants or even other animals which provide what they need to survive! Copyright (c) 2010 Richard Ling
Creature quiz Question 1: I can live to as old as 10 years old. I feed on tiny animals which are found in the water by sucking them through my shell. I like to spend my life attached to a rock with sea water washing over me.
Creature quiz Question 2: I have five arms which can grow back if one is damaged. I like to move around rocky environments with a good supply of my favourite food – mussels. I have really hard brittle skin.
Creature quiz Question 3: I use the shell from other animals to protect myself. I walk sideways. I like to live in places where lots of shells are washed in by the tide.
Creature quiz Question 4: Over 99% of my body is made of water. I kill my prey by releasing poison from my tentacles. I like to attach myself to the place I live using a foot. This can either be on the bottom of the sea or in a shallow pool.
Rock pools What do all these animals have in common? All of these animals live in rock pools. A rock pool is a pool which is completely covered by the sea during high tide, capturing some of the salt water when the tide goes down. It is a habitat for lots of different creatures which have to be able to survive in constantly changing conditions, such as strong waves or heat from the Sun.
How can we damage a habitat? How can we conserve a habitat?
Conserving different underwater habitats Lots of the underwater habitats which animals rely on are very fragile. Some of man’s activities could damage these habitats and the animals in them. Photo credit Carlos Paes
Conserving different underwater habitats You can help by always treating animals with respect, disposing of your rubbish properly and trying to eat fish which are fished sustainably.
Conserving different underwater habitats SEA LIFE helps to educate people about the importance of protecting underwater animals and their fragile environments.
100 million sharks are killed by humans every year! The biggest threat to Leatherback Turtles is plastic bags in the ocean; they mistake them for jellyfish and eat them. Over 20 million seahorses are killed for use in Chinese medicine each year. Over 25% of the world’s marine life live on or around coral reefs. Coral reefs are one of the most endangered habitats in the world. Conservation facts
Conservation news The polar ice caps are an example of one environment which is being damaged by humans. Humans use lots of fossil fuels which helps contribute to global warming. As the planet becomes warmer the ice at the North and South Pole is beginning to melt. Photo credit Jan Will
Conservation news As the polar ice caps melt, life becomes more difficult for animals living in the coldest places on earth. Seals and penguins live on these sheets of ice whilst giving birth to their babies. If they continue to shrink then they will be left with less choice about where to give birth. Less space to give birth also means that seals are at more risk from predators like polar bears. Photo credit Jos Browning
Conservation news You can help make a difference and save the ice caps though. Make sure you switch off any lights or electrical appliances when you aren’t using them. If you are going on a short journey try to walk or use your bike instead of getting your parents to drive you. Finally try to make sure that you recycle rubbish and try not to waste things like paper whenever possible. Photo credit Ariel da Silva Parreira